Bring Your Community’s Perspective to NLC’s National Policy Issues!

Comprised of local officials from NLC member cities and towns from across the country, the seven Federal Advocacy Committees play a central role in developing the organization’s National Municipal Policy (NMP), which is the foundation of our advocacy efforts. Learn more about the advocacy, action, policy recommendations and national resolutions put forth by each of the Advocacy Committees in 2020. You can help shape NLC’s advocacy and agenda next year: the 2021 committee applications closes on December 4th

Finance, Administration & Intergovernmental Relations (FAIR) 

This year, the Finance, Administration & Intergovernmental Relations (FAIR) Committee witnessed inequities laid bare by the pandemic. The FAIR Committee after seeing these inequities worked on a broad range of policy amendments to aid cities, towns, and villages, as well as the residences and businesses of those municipalities.  

The policy amendments focused mainly on tax policy, from not taxing loan modifications for small businesses to allowing the long-term unemployed to withdraw monies from a qualified retirement account without a penalty. The FAIR Committee also examined voting inequities and passed three resolutions on to enable greater participation in voting.  

Energy, Environment and Natural Resources (EENR) 

This year, the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources (EENR) Committee continued advocacy efforts on climate change and water infrastructure, which come together under the Building Sustainable Infrastructure pillar of the Leading Together Cities Agenda. Specifically, the committee focused on water affordability and equity, advocating for water infrastructure investments, building community resilience and disaster preparedness.  

The coronavirus pandemic shined a light on how some communities faced challenges of ensuring all residents have access to clean and safe water to maintain public health while seeing a significant drop in utility revenue essential to providing water service, continuing operations and ability to make capital investments. Moreover, as communities struggled to maintain services and essential workers, many were hit with natural disasters, such as wildfires and hurricanes, which further increased fiscal pressure on local governments, residents and businesses. The coronavirus pandemic also exposed the inequities that long existed in communities, particularly in historically underserved communities, which are often the areas most affected by flooding, health inequities and lack economic opportunities.  

The EENR Committee advanced ten resolutions on climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience; PACE programs; water infrastructure funding and financing; addressing drinking water contamination from lead and PFAS; supporting local control and decision-making on water infrastructure projects, and others.   

Community and Economic Development (CED) 

This year, the Community and Economic Development (CED) Committee considered measures to advance housing stability and reduce homelessness; and to foster local entrepreneurship and economic recovery. These areas of focus have become even more consequential for cities as a result COVID-19 related harm to residents and small businesses.   

The CED Committee advanced resolutions supporting economic mobility and entrepreneurship, consumer mortgage protections, homeless assistance legislation, and increasing availability of affordable and middle-market housing. 

Human Development (HD) 

This year has been unprecedented and the issues before the Human Development (HD) Committee have become more relevant than ever to cities, towns, and villages. The Committee focused on the issues of workforce development and connecting those out of work with critical training and support services, mental health and substance use, as well as the impact of COVID-19 to the many policy areas included within our purview. The Committee also worked to advance several pillars of the Leading Together Cities Agenda, including that of creating a skilled workforce. At this year’s City Summit, the Committee heard from Lisa Soronen of the State and Local Legal Center regarding how changes in the courts may impact cities, has a conversation around the impact of the Census as well as had an in-depth conversation with the education and expanded learning team within NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education and Families regarding K-12, afterschool and postsecondary education. 

The Committee has advanced changes to standing policy in seven sections of the Human Development chapter of the National Municipal Policy to clarify policies and programs. These sections include children and learning, poverty reduction and income support, employment, seniors and social security, health, and immigration and refugees. The Committee also advanced eight resolutions including a new resolution calling for addressing systemic racism as a public health crisis and another regarding addressing COVID-19 heath disparities through resources and data. 

Transportation and Infrastructure Services (TIS) 

In 2020, the Transportation and Infrastructure Services (TIS) Committee successfully advocated with Congress to increase the transportation resources for cities in landmark infrastructure legislation like H.R.2. TIS also worked to highlight challenges and advance the safe integration of transportation technology into our roads and airspace. The Committee continues to uplift coalitions, policy and actions to improve safety funding available to cities to save lives on city roads. 

NLC’s TIS leaders continue to revise our standing policy of the National Municipal Policy primarily to reinforce our commitment to safety, support practical and safe rail policies, and reduce fatalities on our roads. TIS also advanced four resolutions calling out particular areas for attention by the federal government as we head into 2021:  

  • Congress Can Partner with Cities, Towns and Villages to Rebuild and Reimagine America’s Transportation Infrastructure  
  • Cities and Towns Call for a Visionary Rail Investment in Commuter, Regional, and National Connections with Greater Cooperation between Railroads and Operators to Improve Rail Safety, Flow, Service and Noise in Communities 
  • Advance Integration Framework that Incorporate Local Authorities for Drones to Integrate into Cities’ Transportation Systems and the National Airspace 
  • Reduce the Economic, Noise and Health Impacts of Overflights on Cities from Implementation of Nextgen’s Airspace Redesign 

Public Safety and Crime Prevention Federal (PSCP) 

This year, the Public Safety and Crime Prevention Federal (PSCP) Advocacy Committee’s work focused on developing federal policy that supports – not preempts – local governments’ authority to manage their public safety and policing programs. Specifically, the Committee’s recommendations focused on the need for the federal government to provide technical and financial assistance to help local governments create violence interrupter programs, and provide mental health and wellness services to law enforcement officers. The Committee’s work also focused on the recommendation that the federal government should establish a National Database of Decertified Officers. Local governments should be able to use the database to vet officers who have been dismissed for such issues as excessive use of force or racial discrimination. 

The Committee also made changes to the Substance Abuse, Equity in the Criminal Justice System, and the Municipal Fire sections of the National Municipal Policy (NMP). These amendments include incorporating the policy language from the resolution on opioid abuse and adding language asking the Federal Government to help local law enforcement establish training and education programs on: 

  • de-escalation techniques, 
  • crises intervention, 
  • appropriate use of force and enforcement techniques 
  • explicit and implicit racial bias, and  
  • proper and unbiased investigative procedures. 

The Committee also added a new subsection to the NMP titled “Firefighter Exposure to Hazardous Material” that incorporates the policy language from the resolution in support of federal efforts to reduce firefighter exposure to hazardous material.  

Finally, the Committee advanced five resolutions including reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program and providing disaster insurance coverage for wildland fires and other disasters, regulation of medical and recreational marijuana use, enactment of extreme risk protection orders, prevention and treatment of first responder post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), and the use of force by municipal law enforcement officers.   

Information Technology and Communications (ITC) 

The Information Technology and Communications (ITC) Committee continued its advocacy focus in 2020 on combatting preemption of local authority and getting broadband connectivity to every resident. This year, the pandemic and resulting closures and social distancing measures shone a spotlight on the need for ubiquitous, high-quality, affordable broadband for all businesses and families like never before. The ITC Committee has worked for a number of years on expanding broadband access and adoption, and this year focused on pushing for more federal funding for broadband infrastructure, making broadband more affordable for all consumers, fighting against federal preemption of local leadership, and protecting city data. 

The Committee advanced eight resolutions focused on advocating for municipal broadband and local control over wireless infrastructure; enhanced protections for consumers and residents; higher levels of federal investment in broadband infrastructure and higher requirements for network performance for federally supported builds; and a national effort for digital equity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Apply today!

Submit your NLC Leadership Application today! NLC is accepting applications for all seven federal advocacy committees, as well as member councils and constituency groups. The application window closes on December 4.

About the Author

Irma Esparza Diggs

About the Author

Irma Esparza Diggs is the Senior Executive and Director, Federal Advocacy at the National League of Cities.